Dr Matthew Chen graduated from Barts and the London, Queen Mary University of London in 2010 and was admitted as a member into the Royal College of Physicians in 2015. He has a passion for geriatric healthcare in the community and is currently in his final year of Senior Residency in Geriatric Medicine.
Development and Implementation of Standardized Dementia Education Material for Caregivers to Improve Knowledge on Dementia and Reduce Caregiver Stress
Background: Caring for a person with dementia (PWD) can lead to significant caregiver stress, which has been associated with increased morbidity. While there is evidence that dementia education to caregivers can reduce stress, there is a lack of standardization in the delivery of information and paucity of practical advice to aid caregivers in caring for their loved ones with dementia.
Objective: To improve the knowledge on dementia and reduce caregiver stress in caregivers of PWDs who have been admitted to the acute geriatric ward over the course of 6 months.
Methods: Factors for inadequate dementia education were analyzed. Standardized dementia educational material with multidisciplinary input was created. The material would be tailored to the PWD, depending on their dementia staging, coupled with person-specific physical therapy and dietary advice. Caregivers of patients admitted to acute geriatric ward were recruited. Validated tools (Dementia Knowledge Assessment Tool version 2, Zarit Burden Interview (ZBI)) were used to assess caregiver knowledge of dementia and screen for caregiver stress in the ward prior to dementia education and 1 month post-discharge via follow-up phone call. Results of pre- and post-implementation of the new material were analyzed.
Results: 37 caregivers were recruited. 58.6% were female. Mean age was 56.7 ± 8.8. 82.8% were Chinese, 10.3% Indian, and 6.9% Malay. 71.4% were either a son or daughter. 73.9% were married. 76.4% spent at least 50% of their time in caregiving. 10% of caregivers had to quit their previous job to be a caregiver. 78.9% of caregivers had at least 6 years of formal education. With existing material, while there was a 4.5% improvement in their knowledge of dementia, there was a rise of 44.7% in terms of caregiver stress. With the new dementia educational material, the improvement in knowledge of dementia was sustained at 2%, while caregiver stress was reduced by 3.8%. Delving into individual components of the ZBI, caregivers were more certain about what to do with their relatives after using the new material, with an improvement from 23.8% to 42.9%.
Conclusion: While our new dementia educational material did not increase knowledge significantly, it played a role in reducing caregiver stress in PWD caregivers. Caregivers were more certain about how to care for PWD after using the new material. Future work will include enhancing our educational material by gathering feedback from caregivers, harnessing technology to provide more engaging material, and expand the use hospital-wide and to the community.